Amid a sea of minor changes elsewhere, deliveries into theChicago and Northeast were conspicuous Wednesday with gains ofaround 15-20 cents or more. A market-area OFO issued by NGPL (seeTransportation Notes) seemed rather innocuous at first by beinglimited to 6 a.m to noon each day, but a marketer said that set offa scramble by traders to adjust their Chicago balancing situations.It also pushed up NGPL Iowa-Illinois Line quotes by more than 20cents. And quotes for Northern Natural-Ventura, where the pipelinehas had a System Overrun Limitation in effect for market zonessince before Christmas (see Daily GPI, Dec. 24), soared by asimilar amount.
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Bombing Iraq seemed as reasonable an explanation as any for whymost cash markets were rising in the neighborhood of a dimeWednesday. Weather was getting a little colder but still relativelymild for this time of year, so it’s not like there’s any big surgein gas demand, a marketer said. The AGA storage report of 49 Bcf inwithdrawals last week, which came too late to affect Wednesday’strading, was approximately in the middle of most expectations andthus neither bearish nor bullish.
Three of the four leading natural gas trade associations onFriday were said to be either definitely on board or “favorablyinclined” to jointly ask FERC for a second extension of thedeadline for industry comments on the major notice of proposedrulemaking (NOPR) and notice of inquiry (NOI) issued in July[RM98-10, RM98-12]. A source indicated there was a “50-50 chance”the lone association holdout would sign on too. The joint request,which reportedly is being spear-headed by the Interstate NaturalGas Association of America (INGAA), would seek a six-monthextension of the current Jan. 22nd deadline, and could be filed atthe Commission as early as this week. A possible reason for themove is that one of the groups is trying to buy time to broker acompromise with the other three associations on a voluntary auctionproposal, the source said. This would make pipeline participationin capacity auctioning optional, as opposed to the mandatory routethat FERC seems to favor.
Sempra Energy said the third quarter volume numbers it submittedto be included in NGI’s North American gas marketer ranking wereincorrect. The 3.1 Bcf/d first reported by Sempra excluded therecent acquisition of CNG Energy’s wholesale gas marketingportfolio. The corrected number is 4.5 Bcf/d of gas sold during thethird quarter, which is a 52% increase from 3Q97 and puts Sempra atNo. 12 in the ranking rather than No. 20. KN Energy, Columbia,Tractebel, Texaco, Sonat, El Paso, Williams and Enserch move down anotch because of the change. (Please see NGI or Daily GPI,11/9/98).
The futures market concluded the week on a quiet note Friday asneither bulls nor bears were able to influence a move in theirfavor. After a lower open the November contract quickly filtereddown, filling in the chart gap to $2.35. But the $2.35 level held,and the market was left to trend higher into the closing bell. TheNovember contract settled at $2.432, a 1.8-cent gain on the day.
For the last several weeks the futures market has been a modelof volatility where one day’s gains were the next day’s losses.However, the market couldn’t make up its mind yesterday and afterabruptly spiking higher in the morning, ran into overheadresistance and subsequent selling that forced the market lower inthe afternoon. The October contract settled nearly unchanged forthe day at $2.186.
A number of traders were experiencing early cases of the”Summertime Blues” Monday due to what they perceived as a verylackluster market. “It will be easy to report the prices todaybecause they’ve hardly budged” from Friday, a Gulf Coast marketertold Daily GPI. Another source quoting flat to slightly lowerChicago citygates in the mid $2.00s noted he was “just sitting hereyawning.”
Nymex futures once again were unable to buck the downtrend andcontinued to slip lower yesterday in quiet trade. The July Nymexcontract opened below $2 before breaking through long-term supportat $1.97 only to claw its way back up near the close. July settledat $1.976, down 5.1 cents for the day. In doing so, July posted thelowest level of any prompt contract since January.
Cash prices were dropping for the most part Wednesday as manyhad expected, and there’s no reason not to expect more softeningthrough the rest of the week, several sources said. They had plentyof evidence to back up their prediction: forecasts of moderatingheat in the South by the weekend, a falling futures screen and abearish AGA storage report exceeding 100 Bcf in injections.